The FDA has announced plans for initial public hearings on CBD in April, where the Agency will notably address rules permitting companies to add the hemp-derived compound to food.
"We're deeply focused on this. We have taken on other hard challenges before," Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. "You have my commitment I'm focused on this one."
While Congress legalized industrial hemp and, by extension, hemp-derived CBD in December with the 2018 Farm Bill, the FDA has yet to provide a guidance on the substance's presence in food products.
A planned crackdown on the addition of CBD to food in New York was postponed yesterday until June 30.
Gottlieb also told the Committee Wednesday that the industry will likely have to wait until 2020 for a full regulatory framework.
“We want to proceed slowly,” he said, warning that rulemaking will not be “straightforward.” He also noted that Congress may need to intervene with further legislation if the process grows too complex.
The industry is extremely eager for regulation now that hemp has been legalized, with some agricultural regions impatient to add hemp to their crop rotations alongside other field crops like corn and soy. Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley penned a January letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue asking him to “immediately” begin updating regulations for hemp-derived CBD and other cannabinoids in order to allow them to be sold across state lines.
Industrial hemp is related to psychotropic cannabis, though it contains only .3 percent of the cannabinoid THC and therefore does not produce the "high" associated with marijuana. Other cannabinoids, including CBD (cannabidiol) are present in industrial hemp.
Researchers have identified several clinically tested health benefits of CBD oil, including evidence that it can reduce instances of epileptic seizures. It may also reduce anxiety, pain, and inflammation, according to some studies.